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Chase is well known for its popular travel and rewards credit cards, including the Chase Freedom Flex℠, which offers rotating quarterly categories as well as rewards on travel, dining and drugstore purchases.
And as one of the issuer’s top rewards cards in general, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card features points on dining, streaming, online grocery purchases and travel, for a $95 annual fee. Since the Chase Sapphire Preferred lets you qualify for superior travel redemptions and 1:1 transfers to Chase airline and hotel partners, this card can be an especially good deal for consumers who want more ways to cash in their rewards.
If you’re in the market for a new rewards credit card and are considering these two Chase credit cards, it’s important to learn how they stack up against each other and why you might want to choose one over the other.
|Chase Freedom Flex||Chase Sapphire Preferred|
|Welcome bonus||$200 cash bonus when you spend $500 within 3 months of account opening||60,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 within 3 months of account opening|
|Intro APR||0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, followed by a variable APR of 17.99% to 26.74%||None; 18.99% to 25.99% variable APR|
|Foreign transaction fee||3%||None|
Chase Freedom Flex vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred highlights
Both of these Chase cards are excellent options if you want to earn rewards on your spending, yet they each stand out in a few different categories. As you compare the Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Sapphire Preferred, consider how they stack up in the following:
Welcome bonus winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred
The Chase Sapphire Preferred really shines when it comes to its welcome bonus. New cardholders can receive a first-year bonus worth 60,000 points after spending $4,000 within three months. This welcome bonus is worth $600 in gift cards or $750 in travel via Chase Ultimate Rewards. On the flip side, the Chase Freedom Flex bonus is only worth $200 when you spend $500 within three months of account opening.
The only factor to keep in mind here is the Sapphire Preferred’s considerably higher spending requirement. You’ll need to spend around $1,334 per month on your card for three months in a row to earn its bonus, whereas the Chase Freedom Flex only requires you to spend about $166 a month in the same time period.
Rewards rate winner: Chase Freedom Flex
Though the Chase Sapphire Preferred can be exceptionally valuable in terms of travel rewards, it’s a bit overshadowed by the Chase Freedom Flex’s cash back rewards rates.
With the Chase Sapphire Preferred, cardholders can earn 5X points on travel booked through Ultimate Rewards; 5X points on Lyft rides (through March 2025); and 3X points on dining, select streaming services and online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs). This is in addition to the 2X points on general travel purchases that you receive and 1X points on everything else.
On the other hand, the Chase Freedom Flex offers a more tempting rewards earning rate for those who’re willing to maximize it. You’ll start off by earning 5 percent cash back on up to $1,500 spent in rotating quarterly bonus categories after activation (then 1 percent), as well as 5 percent back on travel booked through Ultimate Rewards; 5 percent back on Lyft rides (through March 2022); 3 percent back on dining and drugstore purchases; and 1 percent back on everything else.
We’ll get into this more in depth in the spending example below, but the Freedom Flex is essentially a less expensive travel credit card option that offers one more 5 percent category compared to the Sapphire Preferred.
Annual fee winner: Chase Freedom Flex
The Chase Freedom Flex doesn’t charge an annual fee, so that makes it the obvious winner in this category. Keep in mind, however, the Chase Sapphire Preferred only charges $95 per year. That’s pretty reasonable for a card with such a generous bonus offer and redemption perks, so we wouldn’t rule it out based on the annual fee alone.
Foreign transaction fee winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred
The Chase Sapphire Preferred also comes with no foreign transaction fees, which is pretty standard among travel credit cards. With the Chase Freedom Flex, you’ll need to pay an additional 3 percent in foreign transaction fees for every purchase you make outside of the United States. If you frequently travel internationally, you’ll quickly make up for the Sapphire Preferred’s annual fee with your foreign transaction fee savings.
Which card earns the most?
For most people, the Chase Freedom Flex is going to net them the most rewards over time. The big difference between these two cards, when it comes to rewards, is redemption.
Chase Freedom Flex vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred spending example
To understand what we mean about earning potential, keep the following example in mind. Let’s say you want to use your Chase credit card for all your regular spending, from groceries to miscellaneous purchases, and that you hope to earn the highest rate of rewards possible in any given quarter. Your quarterly spending might look like this:
- $1,500 spent on groceries (online groceries with the Preferred and Walmart groceries with the Freedom Flex)
- $800 spent on Chase Ultimate Rewards travel
- $400 spent at restaurants
- $250 spent on miscellaneous purchases
With the Chase Freedom Flex, you would earn $129.50 in rewards for the quarter (assuming you do all your grocery spending at Walmart, given it’s the Q4 Chase Freedom Flex 2022 bonus category). That breaks down to $75 in cash back from grocery spending, $40 back from Chase Ultimate Rewards travel, $12 back from dining and $2.50 back on all other spending.
If you instead use the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you would earn 9,950 points, worth $99.50 in cash back or statement credits. That breaks down to $45 in cash back from online grocery spending, $40 back from Chase Ultimate Rewards travel, $12 back from dining and $2.50 back on all other spending.
This example doesn’t take into account redemption options or the welcome bonus on each card. More specifically, if you choose to redeem your 9,950 points earned with the Sapphire Preferred for travel via the Chase portal, they’d be worth around $124 thanks to the 25 percent points boost. Further, if you transfer to the right high-value Chase hotel or airline partner, your points could be worth up to 2 cents apiece, according to Bankrate valuations. That brings your potential value to $199.
Of course, if travel isn’t the name of your game (or your top priority in terms of redemption), the Chase Freedom Flex can earn you more rewards with strategic spending.
Why should you get Chase Freedom Flex?
The Chase Freedom Flex is a World Elite Mastercard, which provides a wealth of benefits, from zero liability protection and Mastercard ID Theft Protection to cellphone protection and Lyft and DoorDash discounts. Here are a few additional reasons the Chase Freedom Flex may be worth it.
Chase Freedom Flex benefits include consumer protections like purchase protection against damage or theft, extended warranties, an auto rental collision damage waiver, trip cancellation and interruption insurance and travel and emergency assistance services.
In terms of its World Elite Mastercard benefits, as noted above, you’ll get cellphone insurance when you pay your phone bill with your credit card, $10 in Lyft credits each month you take five rides in a calendar month, a free ShopRunner membership and other perks.
Keep in mind this card also offers an introductory 0 percent APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, followed by a variable APR of 17.99 percent to 26.74 percent. This is a benefit you don’t get with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, and it’s one that could save you considerable amounts of money if you wind up carrying a balance on your card during the first 15 months (or are looking to cover a large purchase).
While the Chase Freedom Flex is a cash back credit card at heart, you technically earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points (which can be redeemed for cash back in the form of a statement credit or direct deposit). Additional redemption options include travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, gift cards, merchandise, purchases in the Apple Ultimate Rewards Store and paying with points on Amazon.com and via PayPal.
Recommended credit score
You’ll need a good credit score or better to qualify for this credit card, which typically means a FICO score of 670 or higher.
Why should you get the Chase Sapphire Preferred?
While the Chase Freedom Flex is valuable in its own right, many rewards enthusiasts still swear by the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Here are a few reasons the Chase Sapphire Preferred is worth it for many consumers.
Chase Sapphire Preferred benefits include an annual $50 hotel credit, a 10 percent anniversary point bonus and a free year of DoorDash DashPass.
Further, the card offers trip cancellation and interruption insurance, baggage delay insurance, trip delay reimbursement, an auto rental collision damage waiver, purchase protections and extended warranties. Thanks to its array of perks, the Sapphire Preferred is among the best credit cards for travel insurance.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred really stands out in terms of rewards redemption. While you have all the same options as the Chase Freedom Flex, you get 25 percent more value when you redeem points for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal — plus the option to transfer points to Chase travel partners.
Recommended credit score
Similar to the Freedom Flex, you’ll need good credit or better to be approved for this card.
The bottom line
Picking between the Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Sapphire Preferred may not be easy, but it all boils down to what you value most. Would you rather earn more bonus points in a broader range of categories or have the option to redeem for superior travel redemptions, including point transfers to Chase airline and hotel partners?
Of course, you can choose to apply for one of these cards now, then apply for the second down the road and pool your points. With both cards in your wallet, you could take advantage of the best rewards potential and perks each one offers — just be sure to keep in mind Chase’s 5/24 rule.